The Baltimore Sun published an editorial discussing the sale of the Rosewood Center, a former state institution, to Stevenson University for $1 along with an agreement to pay $16 million to help cover the costs of cleaning up environmental contamination. The Arc Maryland has sought commitments from Stevenson University to provide scholarships for student with I/DD in conjunction with a new state program, adopt a curriculum to train graduates to work in the I/DD field, and provide employment opportunities for people with I/DD. The editorial states “The developmentally disabled community has waited far too long already for the kinds of opportunities the Arc is proposing.”
The finalized budget for the State of Maryland contains many victories for The Arc Maryland including:
- A 3.5% waiver rate increase to cover the cost of compliance with the Minimum Wage Act of 2014;
- Funding for 789 individuals with I/DD aging out of the school system to receive employment and other day services;
- Waiver slots for the Crisis Resolution category, or the 101 individuals with the most urgent needs;
- Reducing the Family/Individual Support Capped Waiver and Community Support Capped Waiver Waiting lists by 400 each;
- The use of the Waiting List Equity Fund derived from the sale of state institutions and deinstitutionalizing to fund waivers for 36 individuals with priority given to those with the oldest caregivers;
- Community Services for 26 individuals with I/DD involved in the court system;
- $250,000 for inclusive higher education programs for students with I/DD;
- 100 new Autism Waiver slots; and
- A $3.7 million increase for pre-kindergarten education.
As a result of The Arc Maryland’s advocacy, the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council is partnering with the University of Maryland to expand capacity and improve quality of post-secondary education for students with intellectual disability. This partnership will be funded by a $250,000 line item in the Developmental Disabilities Administration budget and a $25,000 grant from the Think College National Coordinating Center. When recommending this initiative to the Maryland General Assembly, Governor Larry Hogan said “Our administration is committed to ensuring all Marylanders have the opportunity to live, work, and thrive in our state. Providing options for students with intellectual disabilities to continue their education with the goal of employment is essential to their future and our vision.”
The Maryland General Assembly has adjourned sine die, leaving The Arc Maryland with many accomplishments to celebrate. Several bills the chapter supported have passed including:
- HB 1/SB 230, which requires employers of more than 15 employees to provide paid sick leave and employers with fewer employees to provide unpaid sick leave;
- HB 197/SB 485, Peyton’s Bill, named for a student undergoing cancer treatment, which provides grants to public schools to purchase remote technology to allow a student to attend a school virtually;
- SB 710, which requires that school districts give parents the opportunity to consent or refuse consent of a decision to enroll their child in an alternate education program that does not provide credit toward a high school diploma, identify their child for the alternate assessment aligned with the state’s alternate curriculum, or to include restraint or seclusion in the child’s IEP; the school may file a complaint if they disagree with the parents’ decision, but as the complainant, they will have the burden of proof;
- HB 644/SB 180, the Independent Living Tax Credit Act, which creates a tax credit for 50% of the cost of renovating a home for the purpose of making it more accessible for people with disabilities; and
- HB 1061, the James W. Hubbard Inclusive Higher Education Grant Program, which provides competitive grants to state colleges and universities for creating pilot programs for inclusive higher education programs for students with I/DD.
The Arc Maryland has been advocating for passage of the Home Act of 2017 (HB 172/SB 728). This bill bans discrimination in residential sales and rentals based on source of income. Many people with I/DD face housing discrimination due to their use of Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and other public benefits. HB 172 has passed the Maryland House of Delegates and is now pending before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
As a result of The Arc Maryland’s advocacy, several bills are moving forward:
- SB 872/HB 971, the James W. Hubbard Inclusive Higher Education Grant Program, passed in both the full Senate and the House Ways and Means Committee;
- HB 1061, which creates a task force to study emergency and evacuation plans for students, staff, and visitors with disabilities in public schools, passed in the House Ways and Means Committee;
- HB 1/SB 230, The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, which provides paid family leave, passed the House; and
- SB 1013, which allows the licensure of dental therapists, had a hearing in the Senate Education Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.
The Arc Maryland continued their robust legislative advocacy last week. They testified in favor of several bills including:
- SB 872, The James W. Hubbard Inclusive Higher Education Grant Program, which would create competitive grants for universities to develop inclusive higher education programs for students with I/DD;
- HB 1061, which creates a task force to study and make recommendations on how to properly accommodate students with disabilities during emergencies and evacuations;
- HB 696/SB 849, which prohibits discrimination in private schools accepting public funds based on disability or other protected statuses;
- HB 1066, which aligns school fire drill procedures with the Maryland Fire Prevention Code and which The Arc Maryland is seeking to amend to address disability accommodations;
- HB 1222, the Maryland School Discipline Reform Act, which requires reporting of student discipline data disaggregated by disability and other statuses and requires standardized training practices on student discipline for public school security personnel;
- HB 1287, which creates a commission to explore ways to close the school-to-prison pipeline that is disproportionately leading students with disabilities into prison or juvenile detention centers; and
- The Developmental Disabilities Administration Budget.
As a result of the advocacy of The Arc Maryland, SB 354, the “End-of-Life Option Act,” which would legalize physician-assisted suicide, was withdrawn from consideration by its lead sponsor. Additionally, the Washington Post reported that HB 370, the companion bill in the House of Delegates, will not move forward this year. This marks the third consecutive year in which the bill failed to make it out of committee.
The Arc Maryland and other organizations in the Developmental Disability Coalition recently hosted Developmental Disabilities Day at the State Capitol. There was a record turnout with 725 advocates in attendance. Governor Larry Hogan attended the event to discuss his budget and his experience with a man with Down Syndrome who supported him while they were both receiving cancer treatment. Advocates from The Arc Maryland also recently testified in favor of SB 475, the Crisis Resolution Waiting List bill, and the Maryland State Department of Education budget for increasing Autism Waiver slots. Earlier that week, The Arc Maryland provided testimony in favor in HB 644, the Independent Living Tax Credit Act.
The Arc Maryland is busy this legislative session with testimony provided or planned on 36 bills. They are supporting twenty-five, supporting six with amendments, opposing four, and monitoring one. In the week of February 6, they testified in favor of HB 1, the Maryland Healthy Families Act, which requires employers of more than 15 employees to provide paid sick leave; SB 180, the Independent Living Tax Credit Act, which provides a tax credit for improving home accessibility; HB 197, Peyton’s Bill, which provides grants to public schools for technology that allows students who couldn’t otherwise attend school to attend remotely; HB 174, which gives parents the right to give or withhold consent on certain IEP decisions and requires the schools to file for due process if they disagree; and SJR2, which rescinds Maryland’s application for a Convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution pursuant to Article V.